- Alison Laesser-Keck is the founder of Alison Bryan Destinations, a high-end wedding planning company.
- She’s planned ultra-luxury weddings around the world for millionaires, billionaires, and celebrities.
- This is what her job is like, as told to Insider’s Heather Schlitz.
Alison Laesser-Keck is the founder of Alison Bryan Destinations, a high-end wedding planning company. This is what her job is like, as told to Insider’s Heather Schlitz.
I was working in four- or five-star restaurants for years before I started my own wedding-planning company. My husband, Bryan Keck, said it sounded like a terrible idea, but I did it anyway.
I started by placing an ad on Craigslist and immediately booked a wedding at a huge estate with 300 people. I still don’t know how it happened. Bryan worked at a bar, and would tell the important people coming in: “My wife is an event planner.” It wasn’t long before I started getting very high-end Sweet 16 parties. It was word of mouth from the very beginning.
By year two, it was chaotic. I would sleep with my phone next to the bed and check it throughout the night. It was the next level of workaholism, but I felt so deeply about this passion.
Bryan joined the company, and it became our mutual shared passion; it’s the most important thing in our lives outside of family and friends. It requires dedication to the point that our dreams of owning an event company and traveling the world have become bigger than our dreams of having children.
We didn’t want to work in an office and do weddings in the local Four Seasons — that was our worst nightmare
We’re a destination-wedding company, so we work all over the world. Our favorite part of the job is it’s not just a wedding. We’re creating once-in-a-lifetime, luxury-travel experiences where you can go somewhere cool and bring everyone you love.
It’s so rare to have everyone you love in one space. We work hard to do that moment justice.
After more than 10 years, we’re primarily working with millionaires and billionaires. Some clients are definitely household names, but most are in finance or the business world.
There are clients who will spend millions on their weddings because they really don’t have a budget. At our weddings, we’ve had celebrity entertainers like Miguel or Solange’s DJ perform. We’ve had a 26-page custom cocktail menu, boat tours through a slot canyon in Utah, and Michelin-starred chefs.
People always think luxury means more things. It doesn’t. For us, it’s about quality and really honing in on the details that make it special.
Clients are sheltered from all the stress and hustle
My husband and I have a very mobile existence. Venues and hotels around the world host us for free because they want us to experience the property. We haven’t had to pay for travel in years. Before the pandemic, we had 56 flights a year.
Wedding planning just requires such a high degree of detail and organization. If you imagine a big puzzle, you’ve got 30,000 pieces, and they have to click together just right while also being on budget, on time, beautiful, and easy.
There are many times at the heart of wedding season — April to November — when I work from 7 a.m to 11 p.m. When we have weddings constantly, I grab my phone and respond to emails from the moment I wake up. A lot of clients are from New York City, and at 6 a.m. Pacific Time, I already have a large amount of emails.
We’re managing everything for clients — we’re finding and booking venues, sourcing welcome bags, creating floral and lighting design, booking rentals, deciding who walks down aisle when, helping with seating, overseeing design of print material, and plenty of other things. We want our clients to go into guest mode when the wedding happens.
On the night of a wedding, we typically get home at 1 a.m. after about a week of making welcome bags and setting up the venue. On the day of, the team has breakfast together at 7 a.m. before we rush out to the venue.
On the day of a wedding, I run on adrenaline alone
On wedding days, I’m constantly running around with my finger pointed.
We always say we’re going to eat lunch, but we never do because there’s no time. By the time the event starts, we’ve already had an eight- or nine-hour day.
We manage everything, like making sure the band is fed and the design is coming together aesthetically. We hold down silly things, like making sure caterers don’t put butter on tables before we photograph them and making sure no one moves the chairs that we spent two hours straightening.
That stuff is the difference between a well-produced wedding or not. Clients aren’t spending six or seven figures on a wedding to not have linens tucked.
But at the end of the night, I’m on top of the world knowing that we gave our clients something so special. A lot of it is one to three years in the making, and it truly is something they’ll never experience again.